Confederate monuments removed overnight in US city of Baltimore

The mayor of the Maryland city said the statues were removed as she 'did not want to endanger people'

Confederate monuments removed overnight in US city of Baltimore

Workers remove the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson monument in Wyman Park early Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017, in Baltimore. Picture by: Denise Sanders/AP/Press Association Images

Residents of the US city of Baltimore woke up on Wednesday morning to find the city's monuments to Confederate leaders removed.

Crews worked overnight to take down the four statues, including one depicting generals Robert E Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.

The swift action came after the city council unanimously passed a resolution to remove & destroy the statues in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at the weekend that left one person - 32-year-old Heather Heyer - dead.

Speaking to the Baltimore Sun, the city's mayor Catherine Pugh explained: “It’s done. They needed to come down.

"My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could.”

Describing herself as a 'responsible' person, she added: “I did not want to endanger people in my own city."

It was not immediately clear what will be done with the newly-removed statues.

Saturday's clashes in Charlottesville broke out as far-right and white nationalist demonstrators gathered to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E Lee in the Virginia city.

The issue of statues of Confederate monuments & flags has become a significant source of tension in some US states in recent years, with many activists arguing the symbols honour people who supported slavery during the US Civil War.

US President Donald Trump weighed in on the debate during a press conference yesterday evening.

Amid heated exchanges with reporters over his 'both sides' response to the Charlottesville violence, President Trump claimed: "Many of those people [in Charlottesville] were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. So, this week it's Robert E Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down.

"I wonder... is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop?" 

He added: "George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status?"

He suggested it up to "a local town, community or the federal government, depending on where it is located" to decide whether or not the monuments should be removed.